Sports

Rafael Navarro’s seventh goal of season lifts Rapids past Vancouver on wet night at DSGP


Colorado Rapids head coach Chris Armas takes the pitch for the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Commerce City, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

What better way to respond to an ugly loss than with an ugly win?

Just a few days after blowing a 2-0 lead to the worst team in the Western Conference, the Colorado Rapids (6-4-3) earned a better result against a better team, getting the best of the Vancouver Whitecaps (5-4-3), 1-0, to move into a four-way tie for second place in the West.

The lone goal for the Rapids on a rainy Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park came from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time thanks to Rafael Navarro, who is now a perfect 4 for 4 on penalty kicks.

“It’s important for a striker to score the goals, and the group and the staff have embraced me very well,” Navarro said after scoring his seventh goal of the season. “That does a lot for my confidence and it is very high right now.”

A month and a half between now and the end of June separates his team-leading seventh goal and a looming decision by the front office about his future with the club. A $4.5 million price tag awaits Pádraig Smith and the Rapids’ front office, though the club is expected to try to negotiate that down.

The interest to keep Navarro is strong, especially as he keeps finding his stride both from the spot and in open play. His goal against Vancouver marks the third straight match in which he’s found the back of the net.

The penalty came by way of VAR review on a play where Omir Fernandez played a wonderful ball to Cole Bassett in behind the defense. Bassett found Djordje Mihailovic crashing toward the six-yard box, but his shot was blocked from point-blank range by a sliding Bjørn Utvik.

Upon review, referee Alexis Da Silva determined the ball went off of Utvik’s arm in an unnatural position and concluded it was a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Because of that, not only was a penalty awarded, but Utvik was shown a red card.

Coach Chris Armas didn’t pull any punches up a goal and a man in the second half. He could have replaced forwards with more defensive players and parked the bus, but Armas brought in fresh attacking legs early and often in the second half while continuously instructing his team to attack and perhaps push the lead to two or more, though that never happened.

“It’s a weird one. We’re happy with the win, but for me especially as an attacker, you want to get goals and assists in that (type of) game,” Bassett said. “We definitely didn’t get enough in the second half, so personally a little frustrated we didn’t score more.

“Our progression as a team, we’ve had a couple of times where teams have gotten red cards this year and we haven’t buried a lot of chances even though we’ve created a few of them. So I think that’s the next step as a team.”

Colorado Rapids head coach Chris Armas takes the pitch for the first half of an MLS soccer match against …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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